Wolfgang Voigt 'Gas' Book and CD (Raster-Noton, 2008)

Steering way clear of any general rave culture associations of "Techno," Wolfgang Voigt's Gas project is a remarkable breath of fresh air in the often butchered, crowded and over-produced genre. I'm definitely no expert when it comes to beats, as I've only been able to come to terms with the idea of actually liking this stuff in the last 6 months or so. But discovering projects like Muslimgauze, Seefeel, Oval, Alva Noto, The Field, Gas (and others on the Kompakt label) has inched the floodgates of my mind a little bit more open.

Honestly, I keep coming back to those 4 Gas albums, each time discovering some new underlying texture to get lost in. Voigt has this remarkable ability to create looong looping soundscapes that are somehow both very repetitive yet never stagnant, a true wizard of the subtle shift. Sometimes the tracks are pure ambient beat less washes of elegiac strings, while other times the tracks rest upon a throbbing pulse, providing a backbone to these free-floating movements, the beat always active but rarely leaving the comfort of the background.

And thus, with what was a surge of Voigt related reissued material, came this book + cd released by Raster-Noton, a stunning collection of photos by Voigt accompanied by 5 tracks from the early Gas years, 4 of which were never previously released. Overall, these tracks are of lesser calibre than the proper albums. Lesser Gas, however, is still better than most things. Voigt's photos are stunning, and work so well when considering the music. Like the music, the images are simple yet striking in their texture-I like to think of them as the visual extension of the music. Experiencing these simultaneously is like linking up matching puzzle pieces and then realizing that it's only a two piece puzzle. When entering Voigt's visual world reality gets skewed, and the dimensions of the conscious and subconscious are blurred, beginning and end lose all meaning and one falls into a hypnagogic* state of being. And it's obvious that some thought went into the layout of the book, as only the last quarter of the photo's are in colour. And after seeing 3/4 of the book in b/w the sudden shift to colour makes the photos seem all that more vivid. The blues, reds, oranges and greens seem to bleed from the page, a toxic blood, that might stain your fingers if you hold them on the page for too long. I'm tempted now to visit the forests of Cologne just to look up and see the same overlapping leaves and branches that Voigt saw. I would go there just to walk around aimlessly in and amongst the brush, clasping my hands around tree bark and squinting my eyes at the light passing through the forest canopy. Maybe then and only then would I begin to truly appreciate this work for what it is.

*Thank you David Keenan of The Wire

Purchase at Raster-Noton

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